Image-based screen capturing misfolding status of Niemann-Pick type C1 identifies potential candidates for chaperone drugs

Ryuta Shioi, Fumika Karaki, Hiromasa Yoshioka, Tomomi Noguchi-Yachide, Minoru Ishikawa, Kosuke Dodo, Yuichi Hashimoto, Mikiko Sodeoka, Kenji Ohgane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Niemann-Pick disease type C is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by massive intracellular accumulation of cholesterol. In most cases, loss-of-function mutations in the NPC1 gene that encodes lysosomal cholesterol transporter NPC1 are responsible for the disease, and more than half of the mutations are considered to interfere with the biogenesis or folding of the protein. We previously identified a series of oxysterol derivatives and phenanthridine-6-one derivatives as pharmacological chaperones, i.e., small molecules that can rescue folding-defective phenotypes of mutated NPC1, opening up an avenue to develop chaperone therapy for Niemann-Pick disease type C. Here, we present an improved image-based screen for NPC1 chaperones and we describe its application for drug-repurposing screening. We identified some azole antifungals, including itraconazole and posaconazole, and a kinase inhibitor, lapatinib, as probable pharmacological chaperones. A photo-crosslinking study confirmed direct binding of itraconazole to a representative folding-defective mutant protein, NPC1-I1061T. Competitive photo-crosslinking experiments suggested that oxysterol-based chaperones and itraconazole share the same or adjacent binding site(s), and the sensitivity of the crosslinking to P691S mutation in the sterol-sensing domain supports the hypothesis that their binding sites are located near this domain. Although the azoles were less effective in reducing cholesterol accumulation than the oxysterol-derived chaperones or an HDAC inhibitor, LBH-589, our findings should offer new starting points for medicinal chemistry efforts to develop better pharmacological chaperones for NPC1.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0243746
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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